Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Church and Homosexuality

I am a Christian. I was baptized when I was seven years old, and grew up in the Christian church. I believe that the Bible is a holy book - the divine, inspired word of God. I have a wonderful, growing relationship with God and my savior, Jesus Christ. I also reject the church's stance on homosexuality.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

If God loves all of his children why isn't everyone freed from their burdens? How come one child will be cured from his disease while the child in the next bed will not? Did one child's parents pray harder than the others? Was one child's parent's faith not as strong as that of another? These are questions that plague us all, both Christian and non-Christian.

I may not be able to answer these questions satisfactorily for the non-Christian, because understanding God means having faith even while knowing that you will never understand God fully. I am however going to attempt to draw on some scripture and its insight in order to answer some of these questions in my own mind, and in so doing, hopefully help some others out with their questions.

The first scripture that comes to my mind, always, in times of turmoil is John 16:33 in which Jesus says "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." This lets me know that things will not always be easy in this life; trouble will inevitably come to me. It does give me peace to know that my Savior has overcome this world and that by trusting in him, I will be victorious along side him one day.

This doesn't always help me with immediate problems, though. Sometimes I need help just making it through a struggle. Jesus says in Matthew 5:4 that those who mourn will be comforted. There are times when my prayers aren't answered as I wanted and I just need to be comforted. How would I know how to comfort other, as I am called to do in Romans 12:15 if I have never know what it is like to mourn? Jesus felt feelings of loss and sadness too, as he did when Lazarus died and he wept for his friend. If God allowed Jesus to experience this pain, it must have been for a reason.

I know one thing for sure and that is that God does not punish his children because they didn't pray hard enough. Or yet because they did something to deserve cancer, or homelessness, or poverty, or depression, or any number of things that cause us pain in our lives. If that were the case, then we would all be living in poverty and dying of cancer because there is no one deserves any blessings more than another. We are told in Romans 3:21-26 that everyone has missed the mark (sinned). We all deserve the bad things, not the good.

So, why pray at all if God is just going to allow whatever is going to happen, happen? I pray because I am called to. In Romans 12:11-13 I am told to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. This is one way I demonstrate my obedience and faith to God, knowing that I am undeserving of his grace, yet hopeful that he will have mercy on me.

Alas, some things that I pray to be relieved of will not be removed from my life this side of heaven. This is where the faith comes in. I have to trust that God sees around the corners that I am blind to since his ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:7-9).

I can't say I wasn't expecting trouble, because Jesus did warn of it. I must accept it as a lesson in humility and benevolence because I want to be able to comfort those who need our comfort, just as Jesus taught us. I consider it pure joy.

James 1:2-5
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Full of Grace and Truth

As Christians, John 1:14 tells us "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." So if we are to be Christians and therefore, Christ-like we should strive also to be full of grace and truth. In order to do that, however, we need to examine the words so that we can get a better idea of what is expected of us.

The Greek word for grace is charis which has varied meanings depending on how it is used and is almost impossible to translate fully in any one English word. It often means something similar to gift. In other instances, such as in the scripture I mentioned it could mean an active interchange of divine blessing by the internal working of the Holy Spirit out of the fullness of Jesus (God). So, taking this into consideration, we will realize that we can never fully inhabit grace the way that Jesus can, just as we can never completely be as Jesus was.

We can, however live in line with the grace that Jesus was by showing people the gift that is grace. By this I mean handing out grace as the no strings attached present that it is. This involves a bit of humility sometimes, which is another attribute of Jesus' that I won't go into at length, but I will say that humility does not equal weakness. Giving a gift of forgiveness or grace to someone else does not mean we are weak. It is often the most powerful thing we can do - to humble ourselves enough to extend grace even when the other person does not deserve it.

When we look at the word truth in Greek (aletheia), it literally means not hidden. This to me means that the reality of Jesus is not hidden. We can see the truth acted out in the life of Christ. In the early churches the Gnostics were often teaching that there were hidden or secret ways to practice the faith of Christianity. Paul warns the Colossians of this very thing. He wanted the people there to know that the mystery of God was found hidden in one place only - Jesus Christ (Colassians 2:2-4). So, when we feel the need to speak the truth to another, we have to remember that the truth was Jesus himself. Not just the fact that he was, but the truth of life is wrapped up in him - in his actions and his words. He embodied truth, so anything that we say or do that is not like Jesus is not the truth.

So, if God loved the world so much that he sent Jesus to save and not to condemn (John 3:16-17), then that is the message we should convey to people. We should not tell others that their problems are caused by God through lack of belief nor yet that they are looking at eternity in Hell if they don't believe. The truth is that we don't know the whole truth. Because the truth is all of Christ. There is no way that we can know all that their is to know about Jesus based solely on the word. The word is important to us, yes and it is a map of sorts to guide us, but it is not all of God/Jesus. Not by a long shot.

How are we to know the intricacies of salvation and how God plans to be united with us some day; we can only catch a glimps of it in His word. I fully believe He has no desire for anyone to be separated from Him permanently. It stands to reason, in my mind, that He has a plan to have every one of his children with him for eternity. How can that be, you ask, there are so many who turn their backs on him? That is true, it seems that way, but in my heart of hearts I believe that God has a plan for all to have a chance. How could he not? Doesn't he love us with Agape? The love that knows no bounds? If you believe that as I do, how can you still believe that he would leave any stone unturned and leave anyone behind?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Some Experiments Work and Some Don't

I had a cold last week. I had run out of my homemade vapo-rub that I had concocted a while back, so I decided to whip up another batch. I was running low on the non-petroleum vegetable jelly that I used to make it and other ointments for my medicine chest; I decided to add some beeswax to the mix. I knew beeswax would be too solid in consistency, so I added in a bit of vegetable glycerin too. I put everything in a small container and microwaved it for a bit until everything was all melted together. I added my menthol crystals, camphor and eucalyptus essential oil, stirred it all up a little and put on the cap. The next morning I opened it up and sniffed - smelled right. It looked a tad hard though, more like a salve than a rub. I dug my finger in to try it out, only to discover that the glycerin had all separated out of the mix and was floating on the bottom. I was disappointed, but filed the failure in my memory for future reference - beeswax and glycerin do not mix.

In the spirit of curing my cold, I also decided to try a home cough remedy I had heard about from a friend. The recipe sounded decidedly unpalatable to me, so I was skeptical, but dove in anyway. The recipe is simple - chop up a small onion and put it in a glass bowl or jar, then cover the onion with honey. Put the lid on and let it sit over night. I mixed up my brew and let it be 'til the next morning. I then strained out and discarded the onion and left the honey behind. What I had left was a soothing honey cough syrup that did not taste a bit like onions. I was pleasantly surprised. I took it for a few days mixed with some lemon and it did help my cough. I would call this experiment a success.

So, there you have it. One cold, two experiments and two very different results. Don't be afraid to try new things. Even through the failures we still learn and you never know whether things will work out until you try.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Spawn

I don't talk about my kids all the time in my blog. I believe there is nothing more nauseating than a bragging parent. People just don't want to hear about all the great things someone elses' kids do all the time. Why would they? Usually if I want to discuss my kids I will talk to my husband or a handful of close friend and relatives who I know will at least nod and act like they care. Well, today is an exception because I am going to brag on my kids for a while. This post has no other purpose but to wax poetic about what wonderful kids I have.

I was at Kindergarten Round-up at our elementary school yesterday when a woman walked in to register her oldest child for kindergarten. She had her younger three in tow. This brought memories streaming back to me of the day I brought my daughter to register for kindergarten - with her three younger brothers in tow. I was back in the moment. That is until I watched how those kids behaved in contrast to the way mine behaved on that day nine years ago.

Those kids were out of control. Running, screaming, knocking books off of shelves and tossing blocks around the play area we had set up. I distinctly remember my kids that day. They did not act like that. My youngest was just a baby, not even walking yet. He giggled an laughed at various people who spoke to him. The middle two boys, who were 4 and 2-1/2 at the time, read books and drew pictures while we waited. They were well behaved kids even then. They knew the consequences for misbehaving in public.

I made a comment to one of the women I was working with about a frustrating incident with my daughter that day. She couldn't believe I was talking about my daughter. "Oh, she is an angel, all of your kids are so great." I couldn't help but agree with her. They are great kids. They save all of their frustration and irritation for me; that's as it should be. They know I am a safe haven for them to test the waters and vent their anger on. I like that they trust me that much. They know how to be respectful of other people and their property, though. They never got away with disregarding rules.

So, there you have it folks, from the mother of the four best kids in the world. Let me leave you with a couple of tidbits that I find inspiring as a mom.

Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn't have anything to do with it. ~Haim Ginott

If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others. ~Haim Ginott

There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it. ~Chinese Proverb

When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they're finished, I climb out. ~Erma Bombeck

Good, honest, hardheaded character is a function of the home. If the proper seed is sown there and properly nourished for a few years, it will not be easy for that plant to be uprooted. ~George A. Dorsey

Hot dogs always seem better out than at home; so do French-fried potatoes; so do your children. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960